The idea for this was mostly "what do NBN decks do?" and "what Ashes jank seems fun to chuck in a deck?" To that end, I threw in 3 Cryptocrash, 2 Game Over, 3 End of the Line, and the rest was just NBN cards I thought would make a solid shell. Because of this, I don't have any deep insights into card choices, though I do have a change or two I'd make (turning the Ablative Barrier into a Seamless Launch to support the scoring plan better is the main one.) and a few thoughts about how certain other cards performed. In no particular order:
This was my first time playing a deck with Your Digital Life, and the card is wild here, it's almost never bad and some turns you'll have a Rashida Jaheem and Spin Doctor fire and gain 8c for a click.
I played Game Over only one or two times over the entire weekend, but despite that I don't think it's a bad card here - you can overdraw very freely with YDL, AMAZE, and Oracle so you can make the call if you need it right now/in this matchup. At least twice I had games where if I didn't happen to have the kill Game Over would've put the runner in a massive hole, and it's an absolutely brutal card to play before an Oppo. More testing needed, but I think it's definitely worthy of consideration.
Biased Reporting is a bit of a pet card but also very good in a meta with a lot of Hoshikos and Arissanas and other shapers who all like their money resources - I was never sad to see it.
Hydra is just a big ice with 3 subs that, unlike everything else you have, doesn't get hushed. 10/10 would have runners facecheck it again.
AMAZE Amusements is a weird card. Originally I was going to throw it in the remote, but I very quickly worked out a play that constantly surprised people in the Swiss - upgrade Archives. Esâ, Maw, Deep Dive shapers, or even regular Hoshiko and criminals will all want to run archives at some point and this makes it suddenly deeply unpleasant. You can very easily feed them an agenda, especially an Oracle Thinktank, in exchange for the tempo hit and turning on Oppo Research. Even if you install it without an agenda, they're paying 3 credits and turning on Oppo now for the ability to run archives later. If they respect it instead they're letting you use archives as agenda storage - don't get too greedy, but spinning them back as late as possible means you get maximum mileage out of the lowered agenda density of HQ and R&D. It also absolutely still works in the remote to help make challenging your scoring an even dicier proposition - about half your agendas already suck to steal and two tags makes them suck more.
I'm bad at spending influence. End of the Line solved that problem, and also means floating tags is far far dicier, which is very good when you have a lot of ways to stick more tags or make the answer to "how many tags will this run give me" not a certain question.
Hold your nerve with rezzed Spin Doctors - especially early when there might only be a hedge or planogram in archives it's fine to let them access it rather than using it - either they pay (and maybe turn on Oppo, but even without it the tempo loss is still good for you ime) or you get to keep the Spin for later when you have cards worth spinning back.
Tomorrow's Headline is already an excellent R+ card, but it also has the hidden bonus feature that it can look like a Bellona. If they take the turn off to set up in response, they can easily go down to 3 or fewer cards in hand, which gives you a free kill via advance, score, EotL.
I followed a relatively simple overall heuristic/gameplan:
The order of steps one and two is flexible, - there's a lot of situational lines that only came to me in the moment, and I think a lot of it was just trying to play well, work out my opponent's options, and focusing on planning out turns before playing them. (My one loss in Swiss with this deck was definitely at least in part from not doing that and just autopiloting through a turn where I had them tagged, giving away a win that I could've put up more of a fight for.)
I would do a writeup for the games here but I'm afraid I don't remember the specifics of how many of them went or even who I was against in terms of IDs so this is going to be more broad strokes over the entire weekend and sappy.
Because I'm the one of us who had a phone closer to hand, I pass on harmonbee's suggestion for our President of Servers team name to the team chat - "Elizabeth Mills effectively utilised girl power". After two days of waiting for any objections, we lock it in so I can buy the ticket.
I make this deck for President of Servers, and describe it as "here's the R+ I'm workshopping with a spicy include to keep my theme of playing jank ashes cards"
A 6:45 AM alarm to get up in time for an early train to Sheffield. Our second train was delayed, which was a little bit scary but we made it to Patriot on time. Go into it expecting to have a bit of fun, and then I do (to my shock as much as anyone else's) incredibly well - I win 7 games out of 8 and this deck goes undefeated in all 4 rounds, including landing a very mean Game Over into Oppo vs echo right after he installed a fresh daily casts.
It's time for an exciting misadventure! 20 minutes into our walk to the Airbnb to drop stuff off one of us says "I swear the place was closer" and I realise I made a typo when putting the street name on google maps. We head back, and on the way Harper makes a joke along the line of me having so many pronouns that I should let her have one. I suggest it/its, and the resulting gender crisis takes it most of the rest of the walk back to process.
We make it to Kommune. I spend the time soaking in the atmosphere, asking a lot of people what deck I should play between my R+ that just went 4/0 and my Outfit. (I neglect to mention the R+ is on Game Over and the Outfit's on Borehole bc I want to keep my secrets). It takes all evening, but I do get talked into it finally by the rest of QEH and especially my partner, harmonbee.
I go in with some trepidation and no real expectations - last year I came 80th out of 98 and this deck felt strong yesterday but is barely tested. I make a promise to myself that I'll get a lot to drink (and I spend most of the short downtime between rounds refilling my water bottle) and to make sure I eat. I've borrowed Axi the Axolotl plush (or Earthan Wooper if you're Feathermark :p) and my own little plush Shaymin with me for good luck.
Corp split vs Seamus.
I sweep (and I'm really sorry but I don't remember who you were or what you were on and Cobra only has round 7 results? I think it might have been ZomB on a Hoshiko that I think was Mulch and Punitive RH.)
I get swept vs Adam on an Esâ who I tag and then rush to value EotL rather than thinking the turn through. (I should have moneyed up and trashed the Bankhar.) The second EotL is sabotaged and with the kill threat gone they steamroll me. They then give me a brutally tough Thule matchup where they manage to put pressure and fear on before I get my Lat set up, score out a Stegodon, and win from there. They were really lovely, and the games were really fun, but I'm a little bit annoyed at myself after my defeat. My brain takes this, my minor hunger, and the fact I haven't had any water post-round yet, and converts it to genuine frustration.
I meet up with the rest of the Brum squad, and we make a rushed trip to Sainsbury's for lunch. I'm not very talkative during it because I'm still a little disappointed and in my own head - after r2 I was getting congratulated and felt on top of the world, and though I know and am reassured that 3-3 is an excellent result being swept has taken the wind out of my sails. To nobody's surprise, even my own, once I've actually had some food and rehydrated I feel a lot better. I overhear what people who've run the numbers say about 10-4 being safe and decide that while as expected I'm almost certainly not making top cut I'll hopefully make an even record. I do not lose another game of Netrunner on Saturday.
I'm against a fellow Netbrummer, Ams, on Mawrie and PE (Loud, iirc? The Prāna Condenser scoring plan one). We joke about a 241, and they give me Latboy (catboy Lat), but we play both games. There's a double advanced card in the remote, and thinking it's a Bellona they can't afford to contest click 3 she runs HQ with a Starlit knight. She's about to break it, then remembers Bankhar is on HQ and decides to let it fire to save the credits, going down to 2 cards in hand and seeing an End of the Line. Click 4 is draw up to 3. I mandatory, then advance the Tomorrow's Headline, score it, and get the kill.
vs Stefan? on A Teia and cobra says Esâ so I think I've got the right opponent. I can't remember much about my Corp game but my runner was an absolute nailbiter with a clearinghouse creeping up and having to pull out all the stops to get in before it's lethal.
I'm once again paired with someone I know - Hello. We're on table 8, and asked if we want to be on stream, to which we both enthusiastically agree. You can see what happened on the NeoReadingGrid twitch if you have about 15 minutes spare. (Or a bit longer if you want to overhear harmonbee being really sweet after having to watch their partner and the first person they ever taught netrunner fight for a spot in the cut.)
At this point, because top-cut is in sight, I get deck-checked by paulyg. I spend the next half an hour filled with utterly baseless fear that I've somehow dropped a card or marked my sleeves or filled in the decklists incorrectly even though I went card by card through each of them when I submitted the list that morning. It goes fine aside from the fact a few of my sleeves are a little bit scuffed at the corners (Paul is incredibly reassuring about this, which was so helpful as someone who's never come even close to this level of success or scrutiny at a major event) - I have spares for one side and buy some new ones to sort for next round.
I'm paired against Chris Dyer, and I'm very anxiously doing cut maths to work out if I can ID or not even though I'm 9-3 and the going word is that 10-4 is definitely safe. He reassures me it is (I don't know how visible my anxiety was, but that was immensely calming), and we sign off on the ID.
I get a lot of congratulations from loads of people, some of whom I know and some of whom I don't, have a lot of little chats about netrunner, jank, the fact I almost bought borehole, and the fact this deck has Game Over in (I had to explain Game Over on at least 3 different occassions!), and over the next hour or so it slowly sinks in that I have actually, genuinely, for real, made it into top cut at UK nationals 2023.
Cobalt runs a flavour text quiz on a projector we bought from Argos yesterday in a side room, and harmonbee and I are beaten to the tin of celebrations in the tiebreaker by the music-name-dream-team of chord gang and harper. It was a brilliant way to de-stress after a surreal day 1, especially when followed up with food at Kommune and a lot of casual relaxing as "this is real?" becomes "this is real!". Zack also suggets an extremely silly idea for "Netrunner but we amp up the power of every ID" after someone asks what would happen if Ob didn't have the "once per turn restriction", with highlights such as "20c GRNDL", "Asset spam Earth Station", and "Infinite MU Chaos Theory". Our group heads back to the airbnb early-ish, harmonbee and I sing the praises of Cobalt Core to everyone staying with us, and we get to bed around midnight.
Top cut time. I get up early-ish and am genuinely buzzing with glee. I've already far, far exceeded my wildest dreams for how the tournament would go, and while I can't deny a tiny part of me is dreaming of going all the way I'm mostly just hyped to play some good netrunner.
I'm running vs Chris D on R+, I steal 2 Cryptocrash early, and it's close but I can't quite land a Deep Dive through a B-1001 or pull together the money for a Bellona steal. There's more to it but I can't remember enough to do it justice, and also I wish I could analyse that game properly because there were quite a few lines where I don't know if I made the right call or could have done something slightly differently.
The second game was against cableCarnage on Kit. If you haven't seen his writeup, I absolutely recommend checking it out - it's both insightful and very funny. I make a risky call that, with 11 ice in the deck vs Engolo Kit (especially since I didn't notice the propellor in the decklist), I should get a token defense on centrals and then put enough on the remote that I can score out safely. I lose a Cryptocrash to an unprotected R&D, and a Beale that I try to push in the remote to avoid flood (I should've discarded something to spin back with the on-board Spin Doctor, but got greedy about lowering agenda density in R&D for the Deep Dive I knew was coming, forgetting that the deck also has Legwork.)
The last turn of the game goes something like this (you can find a retelling of it in grug form in the comments of his Kit as well):
Wheels run the Spin, I pop it to get back some econ cards.
Run archives, see a fair few non-agenda cards.
Legwork HQ. Break the ice. (A starlit, iirc?) and triple access. There are 5 cards in HQ (2 EotL, some operation, Tomorrow's Headline, and a Bellona.)
First access is the Tomorrow's Headline. I think a bit, and draw from the tag.
cableCarnage goes to roll for access, rolls a d10 to pick, goes to select a card (it would have been an EotL - I'm fanning my hand for this access because I'm scared of laying it facedown and accidentally picking up an ice or similar when I get it back up.), but realises basically straight after the roll (i.e. before accessing) I have 6 cards, not 5. He rolls a d6 instead, and finds the Bellona.
That turn, specifically, stuck in my mind a lot afterwards. The immediate, "oh I'm out" brain was definitely salty about it - I'm sorry if any of that came across on the day. A lot of my thoughts were on "oh if he fails the roughly 1/3rd to get the bellona off either of these then goes for the Deep Dive then the ping into funhouse on R&D means he's got to give up and float a tag or use wheels for safety, or if he commits I have the kill if he whiffs". It took a lot of time to remind myself that thinking through the what-ifs isn't helpful here because that's not what happens, especially since I'd drawn enough that HQ was an obvious target. (Also thinking about it now the Stoneship + Aniccam on board was enough, hand-depending, to actually tank the kill.)
I guess my actual takeaway from that, long-term, is that it's very easy to focus on the decision or events that happen the moment the game ended, and ignoring how you got into that position.
In the moment, though, my takeaway was definitely a sudden and unexpectedly intense wave of sadness. There was a table in the cafe that became the "sad queers processing top cut emotions" table, as we sat together and tried to think about everything but netrunner, to find a moment of space to process from "we each just lost two games in a row." to "holy shit we made top cut in an extremely competitive field and put up an incredibly good showing against some of the best players in the world."
It definitely took a while and a hot chocolate, but eventually I decompressed and calmed down. The afternoon became jumping all the different things my friends were doing, snippets of classique and startup, watching moments of Arkham, trying to keep it together, and realising I hadn't actually eaten lunch. Other Midlands highlights include Cobalt winning startup, Ams playing some of the unset games of all time and finally getting us to errata Chipmunk to stop them trying to play netrunner with only their mouth, and harmonbee and dreadmaaw doing a stellar job of judging. All that was left after that was a final Kommune trip, in which I met yet more cool people (shoutout to Tiff, fellow Catboy Lat enthusiast), played one final game of standard,and then got a slightly late train back to get in just before midnight.
(Then I stayed up till nearly 2am buzzing with energy, rewatched my games on stream, and got emotional about people complimenting my plushies)
Honestly, everyone I met at nats, in any degree, for helping make this such a special weekend - I think this writeup is probably already far too long so I can't thank you all by name.
Extra special bonus ultra thanks to:
13 Nov 2023 HalfHusky
13 Nov 2023 Cpt_nice
13 Nov 2023 not_yeti
13 Nov 2023 CobraBubbles
14 Nov 2023 Jai
14 Nov 2023 crowphie
14 Nov 2023 jan tuno
14 Nov 2023 shanodin
14 Nov 2023 Nemamiah